There are few spirits better suited for the chilling weather of the winter holidays than scotch whisky, which has been a cornerstone of celebrations, both personal and professional, and holidays for decades. From Scotland’s most lauded distilleries to some under-the-radar gems, we’ve got some terrific options to sip this New Year’s Eve in lieu of champagne. We know popping the bubbly is traditional, but frankly, your whisky-loving guests would much prefer a lovely glass of scotch.
6 Best Scotch Whiskies to Drink This New Year’s Eve
Hailing from the Islands region, Old Pulteney has rapidly burst onto the scene with a wide portfolio of single malt bottlings that deliver both in quality and affordability.
Old Pulteney’s stars are easily its 15- and 18-year expressions, which are packed with tons of coastal flavor and available at prices that the major houses of Scotland couldn’t reach in their wildest dreams. Freshly baked pastries, honey, sweet cream and salted caramel exude from the enviable 18-year single malt, while the 15-year brings many of the same flavors but knocks a few dollars off of the price tag.
Fans of whiskey who are looking to dabble in scotch whisky will pick up their first bottle of Old Pulteney 12 Year and understand why it’s one of our top picks for bottles to have on any bar.
The Glen Grant 15 Year
The Glen Grant has long been a notable component of some of scotch’s biggest blends, but in recent years, bottlings featuring just Glen Grant distillate have also come forth. Straight from the distillery itself, Glen Grant’s 15 Year Single Malt carries a lighter, sweeter profile that fans of Glenlivet and Glenfiddich will know and love.
Bringing a bit more complexity along to the celebration, Glen Grant bundles a touch more oak, sweet caramels and balancing spice, making it the perfect upgrade for scotch fans young and old. While it may not be the most inexpensive Scotch on this list, it’s priced well enough that nobody will raise a cry if some Glen Grant makes its way into a penicillin cocktail or Hot Toddy.
The Macallan Classic Cut
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The Macallan is rightfully regarded as one of the most storied Scotch whisky brands. From its place in restaurants, lounges and business halls worldwide to its appearances alongside James Bond 007, there’s no lack of provenance and history behind one of Scotland’s best-known brands.
Incorporating a range of casks from American Oak to exotic Spanish Sherry, The Macallan is known for its sweet, approachable character and complexity. Macallan’s Classic Cut is a newer face to the brand’s portfolio and brings some additional sherry character and a bump in proof. Perfect for a neat pour with the spine and flavor to hold up to ice, there’s no better “one-size-fits-all” scotch than Macallan Classic Cut this winter.
The Glenlivet 25 Year Old
The Glenlivet remains one of Speyside’s most famous names when it comes to scotch whisky. Nestled in the North East region of Scotland, Glenlivet has nearly unparalleled access to the clean, crisp waters of the River Spey.
Glenlivet’s 25-year-old expression is a notable embodiment of the great pursuit of whisky — the crossroads of quality, affordability and obtainability. This single malt manages to nail all three and makes for a lovely, savory, sherry-laced pour packed with dried fruits that’s easy to drink no matter the occasion.
The GlenDronach Parliament 21 Year Old
Returning to sherried drams and whisky with old, old bones, The GlenDronach is one of the best sherried whisky producers around.Aged for 21 years and full of sherried delight, this producer’s Parliament bottling is one of the rarest gems of the Scotch world, delivering a full sherried aged release for just under $300. Fans of deeper, darker notes in their whiskies, such as raisin, fig, currant, tobacco and rich, sweet oak, will find comfort and delight in the deep, brooding complexity of The GlenDronach. A notable bonus: It pairs perfectly with a cigar or tobacco pipe.
Mortlach 16 Year Old
One of the hidden giants of Scotland, Mortlach has recently undertaken a whole new direction by making its whiskies available to the public under its own brand. Previously only obtainable in most circumstances by lurking in shops and among brokers for single casks through independent labels, Mortlach’s rebirth couldn’t come at a more opportune time.
It’s hard to find a 16-year scotch on the market for just over $100, but Mortlach has made that dream a reality, presenting its sweet, savory and tannin-backed flavors to the world of whisky. Mortlach’s 16 Year expression is a hidden great among the bottles on my shelf here at Whiskey Raiders, and I fear it will only be a short while before the entire world knows of Mortlach’s greatness, making it harder to find for those of us who knew where to find it all along.
When it’s all said and done, there is no shortage of wonderful whisky straight from Scotland to share this holiday season. From the tangled waves of Old Pulteney’s island home to the historical halls of The Macallan, grab a bottle to share in your celebrations with others and perhaps one for yourself as well for a quiet, fireside evening in.
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